I’ve watched 3 episodes, so far. Here are some of my thoughts, so far.
I’m very impressed with explanations and graphics used to explain how European soccer competitions work, with pro/rel pyramids and the Champions League.
I’m also impressed with the show’s ability to get to heart of the pro/rel debate and give a fair representation for folks on both sides, though, so far, I think those against pro/rel may feel the show is not sympathetic to them.
But, so far, I recommend watching it just for that.
Here are some more thoughts.
At one point, the show points out that some UEFA revenue gets filtered back to the lower division clubs. I need to do more research on what that means. Revenue from what and how much do clubs receive? To my knowledge, that doesn’t happen in Concacaf or US Soccer, or if it does, I’m unaware of how much of this money makes it back to lower division clubs.
Here’s an attempt to sum up the schools of thought for and against the super league.
A few Super Clubs believe they are the reason football is so popular and they are not receiving their just rewards and that UEFA and lower div clubs are riding their coattails.
The Super Club owners appear to fear market research that shows younger generations aren’t watching football as much.
They think young people will watch more if there were more ‘blockbusters’ (meetings of the best clubs) and if the competition was closer, like in American sports leagues (amazing how many NFL games come down to the last minute, isn’t it?).
The few Super Clubs are somewhat riding the coattails of the world sport that FIFA created. FIFA and UEFA is all about keeping soccer accessible to small clubs, because they feel this is where the base level of value comes from.
It just so happens, that since the Super Clubs do spend the money to bring together the best players, they see a lot of football’s value concentrated, but that really starts at that local club level in sparking interest, finding and developing talent.
Thoughts on each:
The Super Club’s owner’s interpretation of market research reminds me of company’s I’ve worked with. It seems overly simplistic. Maybe they don’t really care and are using research just as way to bolster their side. But, if they are truly concerned about the future because younger people are tuning in less, I’d pose this question.
Tuning in less compared to what? Compared to older generations at the moment or compared to prior younger generations 10, 20 and 30 years ago?
I’ve seen company managers make the mistake of reacting to the former, believing it was a sign of things to come so they need to do something now! But, when they do the comparison to prior generations of young folks, they find that viewership is either about the same or better. Which means, that sometimes it takes awhile to grow into viewing a sport. It turns out, young folks have a lot of things to do with their time. But, as they get older and settle down, watching the match becomes something they do more.
Recently on Twitter, Alexi Lalas analogized pro-pro/rel folks in the US of being for letting someone live in someone else’s house rent free. In this case, he said that turning MLS into pro/rel would allow clubs that get promoted into MLS to benefit from all the investment MLS has made.
This reminded me of the Super Club/UEFA tension. The Super Clubs thought they were soccer. But, when UEFA said it would ban Super Clubs and its players from participating in UEFA/FIFA sanctioned competitions, like the clubs’ home leagues or the World Cup, then that pretty much ended the Super Club.
It made me think of Lalas’ analogy. Whom is living in whose house rent free?
The Super Clubs realized how much of their value was tied to these competitions. They claimed UEFA acted in a monopolistic manner and I think that may still be in court on that.
But, regardless of the legal outcome, it gets to the truth of how much value the Super Clubs owe to FIFA. A lot. Maybe most.
These clubs could go it alone and break free of FIFA altogether, but they know that would basically be starting from scratch with a brand new sport that might look and feel like soccer, but would not likely have the best players and people would not tune in and their clubs would quickly lose value.
Finally, what strikes me is how all of these arguments also apply to MLS, which is basically a super league in the U.S. and operates as an approved FIFA exception to the very same sporting merit principle codified in FIFA’s guidelines, that was staunchly applied to keep the Super League from forming.
I’m wondering when others will notice that.